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Once again, the school year is almost upon us. To celebrate (or commiserate) the start of another year of learning, we're featuring eight game studies books and academic journals that are scientifically proven to make you smarter. The first four publications in our list are books written or edited by scholars in fields like theology, gender studies, and music. Each one looks at issues in game studies through its own interesting framework and is available for purchase at most major online bookstores.The last four publications are peer-reviewed scholarly journals, meaning all their content is very competitively-selected, published anywhere from once or twice a year to bimonthly. The first three journals are open-access and free to the public, so no matter if you have access to a university library or not, you can enjoy what they have to offer.
None of these publications are meant to focus on game design from a technical aspect. They examine the critical and cultural issues in games, like politics, race, psychology, and law. So, if you enjoyed our previously published interview with a video game musicologist or our list of game studies schools, read on and get cracking.
Note: Game Informer has no vested interest in the success or failure of any of these publications, and lists them only as a starting point for readers interested in learning about game studies.
BOOKSBeyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: New Perspectives on Gender and GamingYasmin Kafai, Carrie Heeter, Jill Denner, and Jennifer SunBeyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat is a collection of essays by game studies scholars, as well as interviews with people in the game industry (such as a Frag Doll and and the global brand manager of Vivendi Games). The book explores issues of gender in game development. One of its overarching arguments is that few games marketed toward girls offer modding opportunities, and that this helps perpetuate the relative lack of female game designers in the industry. Some of the essays included in the compilation are, "Gender Identity, Play Style, and the Design of Games for Classroom Learning" and "Gender Dynamics of the Japanese Media Mix."What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, Second EditionJames Paul GeeGee, a scholar of linguistics and issues in literacy, wrote What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy to demonstrate how video games can, and often do, serve as learning tools that reveal interesting and complicated things about what motivates people, how people process information, and possibly, how to reach modern students inside and outside the classroom. Chapters include, "Learning and Identity: What Does It Mean to Be a Half-Elf?" and "Telling and Doing: Why Doesn't Lara Croft Obey Professor Von Croy?"The Legend of Zelda and TheologyJonathan L. WallsWalls has edited a collection of essays exploring The Legend of Zelda series using a theological framework. He cautions against assuming the book is an attempt to force Christianity onto the series; rather, it is an opportunity to see the narrative and gameplay structures of the Zelda games through a theological lens – just as we see and critique games through gender, race, and political lenses. The book also includes a rating system (ranging from one Triforce piece to all three) that helps readers determine which essays will be easiest for them to understand. Essays include, "The Meditation of Transcendence Within The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker," and "The Necessity of the Triforce in the Defeat of Ganon." Game Sound: An Introduction to the History, Theory, and Practice of Video Game Music and Sound DesignKaren CollinsGame Sound is a seminal work in the study of video game music that leads readers through a chronology of the development of game audio design. Collins writes about the birth and growth of the industry, as well as the cultural and narrative implications of the use of audio in games. Chapters include, "Synergy in Game Audio: Film, Popular Music and Intellectual Property" and "Insert Quarter to Continue: 16-Bit and the Death of the Arcade."JOURNALSGame Studies: The International Journal of Computer Game ResearchGame Studies is an interdisciplinary scholarly journal that is published online several times a year. It is, unlike many scholarly journals, non-profit and open-access, and most of its funding comes from Scandinavian research organizations. Articles focus on games' aesthetics, as well as their cultural issues. Pieces published in the past include, "Lara Croft: Feminist Icon or Cyberbimbo? On the Limits of Textual Analysis," "The Pastoral and the Sublime in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion," and "Moral Decision Making in Fallout." Eludamos: Journal for Computer Game CultureEludamos is an international journal focused on game studies research from multi-disciplinary perspectives like sociology, psychology, art, and cultural studies. The periodical is published biannually and is available for free to the public. Archived articles include, "Ambivalence and Recursion in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night," "Chopin's Dream as Reality: A Critical Reading of Eternal Sonata," and "Signifying the West: Colonialist Design in Age of Empires III: The WarChiefs."Loading…Loading… is an online journal published biannually that is also part of the open-access network, which means the public is free to access all of its publications. Loading… is unique in that, in addition to publishing scholarly research papers, it also publishes game-related art, code, and other technical demonstrations. In 2010, they published a special issue focusing on horror games. Archived articles include, "Playing Attention: The Hermeneutic Problems of Reading Ico Closely," and "Buttons, Simplicity, and Natural Interfaces."Games and CultureGames and Culture is an international journal focusing on critical-cultural issues in games and game development such as gender, race, socio-economics, political economy, and public policy. Many of the articles come from scholars in the fields of communication studies, computer science, art history, education, and sociology. It is not an open-access journal, meaning readers either have to pay for a subscription ($119 per year; the journal is published bimonthly), or need to have access to a large library system (such as a university library). However, the October, 2010 edition is available for free as a sample. Recent articles published in the periodical include, "Race-Based Fantasy Realm: Essentialism in the World of Warcraft," "Leveling Up: Playerkilling as Ethical Self-Cultivation," and "Marketing Military Realism in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare."
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